Building a culture of social entrepreneurship in Vietnam

20 years ago, Vietnam was one of the poorest nations in the world. Rapid development in recent years has dramatically transitioned it into a country on the verge of middle-income status, and the Vietnamese population is reaping the benefits.

Significant donor support has assisted Vietnam in its transition, and as the country continues to change, the donor landscape changes with it. Wisely recognizing that Vietnam’s successful rise will also mean less donor involvement, Kieu Oanh Pham is working hard to develop social entrepreneurs in Vietnam who can continue to lead Vietnam into prosperity.

Last week, I spent a couple days in Ha Noi meeting with our CHMI partner, CIHP, as well as some colleagues in the Ministry of Health. I also spent an afternoon talking with Oanh, the director of the [Center for Social Initiatives Promotion (CSIP)]( When I met with Oanh, she spoke passionately about the opportunities to use business for social good in Vietnam. Many enterprising Vietnamese are developing ideas on how to improve society, but support for social entrepreneurs is limited at this early stage. With this in mind, Oanh and her colleagues created the 2 years ago to lend support, both fiscal and strategic, to new social entrepreneurs who show promise in their efforts to fight poverty.
CSIP provides grants to two levels of social entrepreneurs, the first level being those who are just starting out and have promising ideas for a social entrepreneurship project; and the second level being to provide further support to social entrepreneurs that have already successfully piloted programs and are continuing to develop them. Last year, CSIP gave grants to 7 organizations, one of which is [MotoMedics](, profiled in the CHMI database. In a country with millions of motorbikes and lots of urban traffic, accidents are commonplace and ambulances are few. MotoMedics developed an innovative model to provide first response treatment to victims of traffic accidents, getting basic medical care to victims much faster than before. Since it started last year, MotoMedics successfully piloted its concept in Hanoi and is now determining how to scale up the model.

CSIP just finished its second round of grant-making, this time to 12 organizations. It will be exciting to see what contributions these new social entrepreneurs make to Vietnam in the coming months!